WMH Urging Swift COVID Treatment & ER Alternatives

  (Honesdale, December 15, 2021)…Wayne Memorial Hospital is urging people with mild to moderate COVID symptoms to seek medical treatment immediately if their provider believes they need it—and before it becomes a life-threatening condition.  At the same time, the hospital is asking people with non-life-threatening conditions, such as a sprain or urinary tract infection, to seek help at an urgent care or their primary care provider’s office to help reduce wait times in the hospital Emergency Department or “ER.”

“The situation at the hospital is critical,” said Pettinato, “In the last few weeks, we have been inundated with COVID patients. We are seeing up to 10 COVID patients a day in our ED and treating up to 19 patients daily in our inpatient COVID unit, where the capacity is 21. With patients being admitted and discharged daily, our census is over 21—and that alone causes an ED backup. Some patients who would be admitted often have to wait until a bed is available.

“At the same time, people with less urgent conditions are also being forced to wait in the ED, sometimes as much as six hours, for treatment. This is not how we wish to care for our patients.”

Pettinato reiterated that the ED is for life-threatening conditions, and COVID can be one of them. “COVID symptoms can escalate quickly, particularly for the non-vaccinated,” he explained, “If you test positive, please confer with your healthcare provider about receiving Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody treatment authorized for emergency use (like the vaccines). It can help prevent more severe symptoms or even a hospital admission.”

Regeneron is usually administered via infusion or subcutaneous injection within 10 days of the onset of symptoms or a confirmed COVID test, whichever comes first.

“We are achieving good results with this outpatient treatment and see it helping to decrease admissions to our inpatient COVID Unit. In fact, it is very rare that someone who receives this outpatient treatment has to be admitted to the hospital. “

Regeneron can be administered in under two hours, which includes monitoring afterwards, for either the intravenous or subcutaneous injection.

WMH’s affiliate, Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers began offering Regeneron by appointment only in an outpatient setting this week, rather than referring patients to the ED.

“If you have COVID, please contact your primary care provider about whether you qualify for Regeneron— “the sooner the better,” said Pettinato.


How do you know if your condition is treatable in an urgent or walk-in care center or your doctor’s office?

Here are some tips:

Visit an urgent care/walk-in center or your doctor for  animal bites, sprains/strains, fever/flu, minor broken bones, urinary tract infections, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, cuts that require stitches (controlled bleeding), earaches, sinus pain, coughs/sore throats.

Visit the Emergency Department or ER when you have chest pain, difficulty breathing, stroke symptoms (weakness/numbness on one side, slurred speech), seizures, fainting or a change in mental state, head or eye injury, vaginal bleeding with pregnancy, compound fractures, head injury or trauma or another life-threatening condition.

Most urgent care centers, such as Lake Region Urgent Care in Honesdale, a part of Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers, have X-ray equipment and can perform minor procedures such as splinting. They also offer lab work, flu vaccines, tetanus and allergy shots, along with tests for rapid strep, mononucleosis, pregnancy, COVID and STDs.

Patients whose conditions are treatable outside of an ER will save time and money, according to WMH officials. According to Healthgrades, a company that provides information about physicians, hospitals and healthcare providers,  an ER visit costs about $1,300 to $1,400 whereas most urgent care visits cost an average of $150.

“We hope the public understands,” said Pettinato, “we are in a health crisis right now. The pandemic, particularly with the emergence of new variants, is still very much with us.”

For more information on urgent care versus Emergency Department care, visit Should You Go to the ER or Urgent Care? How to Decide (healthgrades.com).